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How to Run Without Getting Hurt- Part 2

how to run without getting injured

Last week in the first part of How to Run Without Getting Hurt, we talked about the importance of good shoes, starting slow, and not over training. These next three tips are just as important as the first three so let's get right to it.

This is cliche, I know, but the importance of stretching cannot be overlooked. When I was 16 I tore my ACL in a tennis match, landed up having major knee surgery, and was out of sports for 8 months. I believe a huge part of why I got hurt was because I hadn't made a habit of stretching before my matches.

Every time you're tempted to skip stretching, don'tYou'll regret it if you get hurt later. Before my runs I jog for a couple of minutes and do about two minutes of stretches. I know a lot of people would recommend more of a warm-up than this but, let's face it, I'm kind of impatient and don't want to add another 20 minutes onto my already hour long run.

Though my pre-run warm-up is brief, I'm diligent about stretching thoroughly after a run. I'm also a huge fan of crab-legging (not sure if this is the technical term but it's what I call it- see picture below). According to one of my track coaches, doing this for a few minutes after you run (I do it until my legs feel tingly), helps all the lactic acid drain from your legs, preventing soreness the next day. I'm hardly ever sore after my runs, even my longer 6+ mile runs and I think it's because of crab legging. If I don't have time to crab-leg after a run, I notice a huge difference in how sore I am. Take the time to stretch, it's so important. 

{This is what I call crab legging... anyone know the technical term??}

This may seem like an odd tip, but I think it's crucial to a successful training plan and running without injury. Muscle tissue is made up of about 75% water. If you're dehydrated, your muscles will fatigue quicker leading to an increased risk of injury. Also, if you've ever experienced a side cramp or "stitch" (either in your shoulder or right under your rib cage), chances are that it's (at least partially) because you're dehydrated.

I aim to drink a full 32 oz of water before a run. I try to finish this amount of water at least 15 minutes before I head out so that I don't have a ton of water sloshing in my stomach when I start my run. If I don't drink this much before a run I can always tell because I tire quicker and/or I get a bunch of side cramps (no fun!)

If I'm running over 6 miles, I'll carry a water bottle with me, plant a water bottle along my route, or have my husband meet me with some water. My form starts to suffer if I'm tired, and all of these things combined make it a lot more likely that I'll suffer an injury while running.

After a run, I try to drink another 32 oz within 1-2 hours of finishing my run. When I ran my marathon I was a lot more exact in how I hydrated after my runs (especially my long ones). I had a digital scale and weighed myself before and after my runs- whatever the difference was, I would convert this to ounces and drink that many ounces of water over the next couple hours.

If you don't feel like being that precise (I'm definitely not that precise anymore!), an easier way is just to shoot for 24-36 oz within a couple of hours of finishing your run. This amount varies depending on your BMI, hydration status before your run, distance of your run, and how much you sweat.

***TMI WARNING*** Your urine color is (almost) always directly correlated to your hydration status. We pay a ton of attention to urine color in the hospital and often make treatment decisions based off of urine color and amount. Your pee should be light yellow or even clear. Most of the times after a run, my pee will be dark yellow or even amber colored- this is a sure sign that I need more water. I drink until the color is back to a light yellow color. Paying attention to my urine color throughout the day is the main way I tell if I'm drinking enough water. {Side note: Different medications, foods, and vitamins can affect the color of your urine so this is not a hard and fast rule, but for the most part paying attention to the color of your urine can really clue you into how hydrated you are}. ***TMI SECTION OVER***

It's easy to forget about hydrating, especially when it takes more effort to make sure you're getting enough water before, during, and after your run. I promise you that my best and fastest runs have been when I'm staying adequately hydrated- it's worth the extra effort!

I would be the first to say that I don't have the best running form but I try to work at it. I learned some form tips from my track days, and if you've never gotten tips on your form I would strongly encourage you to get some pointers.

Many running stores offer classes on running form, or at the very least, check out some tutorials on Youtube! I had a friend suffering from shin splints during her training for a half marathon. She attended a running form class at a local running store, implemented the tips, and her shin splints disappeared.

If you're following the tips all the tips we've covered and are still suffering from shin splints or notice that one leg is a lot more sore than the other, you may need to fix your form. I can always tell when my form is getting lazy because my shins start to hurt, my right leg is a lot more sore than my left, and my ankle gets bloody because in my lazy form my foot kicks the inside of my ankle (don't ask me why or how).

Working on your form is totally worth the time because it will help prevent you from injury.

Any more tips from you runners? What do you feel like is the most important thing to do to prevent injury while running? 

{I am not a medical doctor, and this should not be considered medical advice. As always, please consult your physician prior to beginning any new exercise routine}.

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  1. I wish I liked running, but I hate it. I was an athlete all through high school, but I despised running. I wish I got that "runner's high" that people talk about, but that is something I have never experienced :/

    Kristin // The Peculiar Treasure

  2. how do you drink all of that water & not have to pee 5 minutes into your run?! that is always my problem!

  3. Hydrating is so important! Even just day to day I have found how much happier and healthier I am with consistent water drinking. And stretching feels so good for my body! I have been doing yoga lately which is the perfect mix of strength toning with stretching. My back feels much better!

  4. i drink a CRAZY amount of water all day because talking to students nonstop for 8 hours wears out my voice! also despite playing a sport i almost never stretch--by the time my run (read: whiny, inconsistent-jog) is over i'm like PEACE OUT I'M DOOOONE and don't stretch. how long are your runs usually?

  5. Yes! I think that stretching after is so so important. A little before is good but mostly after a run. My hubby thinks he needs stretch for so long before as opposed to after. I just don't love running like I used to but since I got some new shoes, I'm a little more motivated now :-p

  6. I've never seen that crab-leg stretch before! I wish I knew these things in my running after a hip surgery, I'm not supposed to run anymore. I used to get shin splints all the time, haha.

    Also, I just wanted you to know I replied to your comment on my blog about family estrangement...sorry it took me a few days to respond, I wanted to have time to think before I gave an answer. It's a tough subject. Let me know how else I can help you (or your friend).

    All the best,

  7. I feel like it takes me awhile to get the "runner's high" - like 4 miles and then it doesn't last but I get a high once I finish. Running isn't for everyone and I definitely go through phases myself :)

  8. I feel like my body uses it right away- I almost never have to pee! Maybe try drinking like an hour before you leave and see if that helps?

  9. I couldn't agree with you more! I feel SO much better at work when I'm drinking a good amount of water. I too have started doing yoga recently and am loving it as well! It's amazing how the simplicity of the moves and exercises can do so much for your body alignment.

  10. Oh my gosh I can't imagine how much water I would drink as a teacher! Do you go home exhausted from talking? Whenever I work with students I am SO tired from talking and explaining things all day! And these are college kids. Also I hear you on the super long pre workout- 2 minutes (that I mentioned above) may have even been a slight exaggeration :p my runs vary, they were longer obviously when I was training for my half marathon but I'm usually happy and consistent in the 2-4 mile range.

  11. Yeah I agree that a little before and more after is important! And there is nothing more motivating than a new pair of shoes. Except maybe the thought of a guilt free milkshake ;)

  12. Ahhh sorry to hear about your hip/surgery :( I was wondering if anyone had heard of that crab leg stretch or not.
    Also, thanks for the reply to my comment! I'm going to read through my comments and replies because right now my foggy brain is spacing on what we talked about :o

  13. 2-4 miles is impressive and sounds doable (now if you had said 6+ I woulda been like nahhh ain't nobody got time for that, unless you're running 4-minute miles!). I may have to follow your lead and start aiming for 2mi on each run day. :) and that's so cool that you get to instruct college kids--are they your interns? I'm picturing scrubs right now and you're dr Elliot with your own batch of coffee-fetching, clueless students haha

  14. Haha nahhhh I'll run the occasional 6 but it's definitely not a habit. And 2 miles isn't bad at all! If you do that consistently it adds up! And yeah they are my intern of sorts haha but instead of them fetching me coffee (though that's a great idea!) they take care of my same patients and I watch over them to make sure they don't kill them.

  15. Good shoes are HUGE. I used to have pain in my knees all day every day because my shoes did support my high arches. Getting good shoes (and might I add, good insoles) has made a huge difference for me.

    Check out my blog for other interesting tips on how to treat shin splints.



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